The latest experimental whiskey from Woodford Reserve and its newish master distiller Elizabeth McCall (pictured) has arrived, and it’s a bit of a spin in the four-grain concept. This is actually a blend of four different whiskeys rather than one whiskey made with four grains, mixing up Woodford Reserve’s Bourbon, Rye, Wheat, and Malt whiskeys — then finishing the conflagration in heavily toasted new oak barrels. Essentially an infinity bottle built from Woodford stock with a little extra age on it.
For the record, this is the first Woodford Reserve release to have Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall’s name on the label. McCall officially took over the role of Master Distiller from Chris Morris, who now serves as Master Distiller Emeritus, in January.
Woodford’s Distillery Series whiskeys often have a bold, aggressive character, but with this Four Grain release, McCall has pieced together something quite softer and more elegant. The nose is Woodford-class woodsy, but not overblown, and I get a strong but not unwelcome note of peppery curry powder in the glass to go alongside it — moving more toward cinnamon and nutmeg with time in glass. Nutty notes in the pecan family linger, hinting at a pie-like filling.
On the palate, the whiskey is sweeter than I had expected based on the nose, growing more powerful with time in glass (and on the tongue). Toasted coconut, butterscotch, and more nutty pecan notes offer a gorgeous dessert buffet, with notes of cinnamon strengthening over time. Those elements endure for some time, with the finish taking on both some fruit and a little bit of wood. As always, it helps that this is bottled at Woodford’s standard and approachable 45.2% abv, which makes things all the more drinkable.
I have to say, I had low expectations for this whiskey, which sounded a bit like a last-minute affair on paper. Turns out McCall knew what she was doing all along. One of my favorite Distillery Series releases to date.
A / $60 (375ml) / woodfordreserve.com